California Attorney General warns against price gouging during coronavirus crisis

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday issued a price gouging alert following Governor Newsom's State of Emergency declaration after the first death from Coronavirus in California.

"Californians shouldn’t have to worry about being cheated while dealing with the effects of coronavirus. Our state’s price gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on medical supplies, food, gas, and other essential supplies," said Becerra.

Anyone who has been a victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, is asked to file a complaint at or by calling 800-952-5225. You can also contact your local police department or sheriff's office.

"California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations, and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business," according to the California Attorney General's office.

Anyone caught price gouging faces one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution.